The Hothouse | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Hothouse 

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There's more comedy than menace in Dado's staging of Harold Pinter's 1958 play (which he shelved without explanation for 22 years). Set in an English mental hospital on Christmas, it traces what happens as staff members lose their tenuous grip on reality, not to mention common standards of decency, when one patient dies and another gives birth. Fans of Terry Gilliam's Brazil will find much to admire in the precisely calibrated over-the-top performances and in Grant Sabin's claptrap institutional setting, with its goony network of wires and ducts woven through a grimy-green space. The torture scenes don't hit home with the same force as in Pinter's later, more political work, but by emphasizing the script's inverted Cloud-Cuckoo-Land qualities, Dado and her outstanding ensemble leave you laughing--nervously. a Through 12/3: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 7 PM, A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells, 312-943-8722, $14-$20.

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